New York City's iconic Central Park is a wonderful place to get married anytime of the year. There are many different locations in the park to have a wedding ceremony and great options for hotels and restaurants nearby.
To get married in Central Park:
• you need a license issued by the State of New York (can be NYC or another clerk's office) no more than 60 days old
• a New York City registered marriage officiant
• at least one witness, 18 year old+
• a ceremony location
• a permit (depending on location and size of event)
• and a photographer, of course!
Now that you know some of the basics, we can discuss a few important considerations.
For inclement weather, the Bethesda Terrace is a great location but it will be busy with tourists seeking cover. I also like the Ladies Pavilion since it is also covered and you can get a permit. Belvedere Castle also offers a decent sized covered area that you can get a permit for. And finally, there are several arches that can host a ceremony or photos.
I have to say, no matter the weather or time of year, getting married in Central Park is a beautiful. I actually love the park in a light rain and I have a clear golf umbrella I bring to weddings where that is needed. In the winter, we can take a break at the Sheep Meadow Le Pain Quotidien coffee shop in the park or visit the gift shop to cool off in summer.
In terms of picking a ceremony date, Central Park is lovely and different in every season! Of particular note is the blooming of the many Cherry Blossoms in the park, typically mid April until early May. The wisteria pergola blooms early to mid May. Fall leaves arrive mid October through early November.
However, there is one time of the year I suggest avoiding planning a wedding if you want photos around the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace. The Friends of the Central Park Conservancy typically host an event, The Taste of Summer, in early June. (They do it every year around the first week in June on a weekday) The terrace will be unaccessible the day of, two days before and after the event. If the terrace area isn't important to you, there are plenty of other areas in the park to marry and take portraits.
By far, the best way to get around Central Park is walking. I highly recommend bringing another pair of shoes if you are wearing high heels or any shoes that will be difficult to walk in. We typically spend at least an hour walking around for most weddings. My assistant can carry a small bag for you if needed while we are shooting.
check date release chart
To get married anywhere in New York City, you first need to get a license at least 24 hours before you plan to hold the ceremony. You can make an appointment to do this in person at an NYC Marriage Bureau, or online (must be in NY state) via Project Cupid.
Appointments are released about 3 weeks before on Mondays at 9 am EST. The marriage license fee is $35 payable by credit card or money order. It is valid for 60 days (or 180 for active-duty military). For specific details, visit the clerk's website.
For virtual license appointments, you must be in NY state at the time of the appointment but not booking. They are released on Thursday mornings at 9am EST. They are for the 3rd week after the release. You need to make an account on Project Cupid before you can schedule.
In person license appointments are released on Mondays 9am EST 3 weeks in advance. Remember, you must get your license at least 24 hours before you can marry and no more than 60 days in advance. These don't go as fast as the ceremony appointments on Friday afternoons, but I'd try and book it as close to 9am as possible as they are usually all gone by the end of release day.
If you can't get a license in NYC, you can use one issued in another area of NY state.
There is a judicial waiver option for same-day weddings. It is only offered at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and you need to have a good reason, such as that you are leaving town the next day, in order to get one. The clerk can provide instructions.
Contact the clerk's office for emergencies. They will respond to DMs on X @nycclerk. (formerly Twitter)
apply for a permit
Whether you need a permit depends on the size of your wedding and location. The Ladies' Pavilion, Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, Bow Bridge, Shakespeare's Garden (Stover Bench, left), Wagner, Cove, the Cop Cot and Belvedere Castle are popular ceremony sites that can be reserved.
There are many locations that don't require a permit (or can't be permitted, like the Dene Summer House). If you have less than 20 people, you can just show-up and marry about anywhere in Central Park unless another event is taking place.
If you have more than 20 guests or want to reserve a specific location, I highly recommend getting a permit. Permits are $25 and can be bought via the park's website with 30 days notice. You can have acoustic, but no amplified music.
The Conservatory Garden is another option for a Central Park wedding. Ceremonies there cost $500, including the photography fee. However, due to renovation work, it isn't available for ceremonies or photography until the Spring of 2025.
The Cop Cot is the largest rustic wooden shelter in Central Park and sits on a hill in its southern end. It is covered with flowering vines Spring-Fall and makes an excellent location for a medium sized wedding. Learn more.
This rustic structure overlooking the Dene Lawn near 5th Avenue and 67th Street in Central Park. It sits perched on a rocky hill and is covered with vines and foliage in the Spring through Summer. Learn more.
One the most iconic features of Central Park. The cast iron bridge was designed by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould in the Classical Greek style. Learn more.
This quintessential Central Park location is best for early morning ceremonies during busy times as it is the #1 spot to see in the park. A must do photo location in any case! Learn more.
The Ladies' Pavilion is an ornate cast iron Victorian shelter on The Lake. The location is popular with tourists and parkgoers. I suggest a weekday morning ceremony for the least amount of traffic during the Spring-Fall. Learn more.
Situated on a small inlet off The Lake, Wagner Cove is a small Rustic shelter with two benches and a working boat launch. It can accommodate an officiant and about 4 people for a ceremony. Learn more.
The four-acre garden landscape featuring plants and flowers mentioned in the bard’s plays. The rustic wooden steps leading to the garden and a small overlook by the Charles B Stover Bench are popular locations for ceremonies. Learn more.
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